Archive for Event Technology & Mobility Solutions

What You Need to Know About Apple’s App Rule

Apple App Store Container Rule

Written by Tim LaFleur | Director, Event Technology

If you have used a branded mobile app for your event, or are considering one for a future program, you have most likely heard about the new Apple App Store container rule that is shaking up the industry. More and more of our clients are incorporating mobile apps for a richer and more engaging experience for their attendees. So, understandably, they have asked us what this means and what can they expect? The simple answer – it depends. But, let’s break it down.

What does the rule say?
In June, at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, they announced changes to their App Review Guidelines. Of specific interest was Section 4.2.6: “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.”

What does the new policy mean?
There continues to be debate as each app company has their own take based on their reading of the rule and/or subsequent conversations with Apple. On the face, it appears providers will no longer be able to submit “one off” single branded event apps into the App Store. While this rule is broad and far reaching it in part touches all app development companies in some way.

As it pertains to our industry, it is widely believed this was put into place to clean up the App Store from many outdated or orphaned apps in preparation for the launch of their new store and have more control (i.e. not unlike the Play Store “Cover Letter” policy from earlier this year). Conference app companies are responding in a variety of ways based on their understanding of the rule. Most of the thoughts swirling around fall into one of three buckets.

Thought 1:
The most common thinking is that event apps now publicly distributed in the App Store will have to go into a larger container app. And, it would need to be a container app branded by the development company versus the event host. This has led some to proclaim that the death of the white labeled single event app is at hand. Additionally, there are concerns over the loss of event branding and security since all apps are placed in one container. In response conference app companies are working hard to mitigate the security concern with shortcuts directly to your specific app inside the container. However, the loss of event branding remains a very real concern for event marketing professionals.

Thought 2:
Some app companies have interpreted this rule less about whether the app is created by a commercialized template or app generation service, and more about whose Apple License is being used. There is a thought that if the app is being published from the event host’s Apple Developer License it will be allowed as either a multi or single event branded app. Others, while they agree in theory, they do not see it as being as broad as this. They feel there are boundaries to this approach.

• App must be published from company or organization’s developer account
• Needs to be a container app and have at least five (5) events included
• May only have one (1) container per organization
• After a few are published, organization will start seeing rejections from Apple

Thought 3:
And, last thought is “our apps are customized and they all differ.” They believe there is enough customization and uniqueness so their apps to not be affected by this rule. However, I am unsure if this philosophy holds true. As I understand it, there will be three main checks Apple will do make sure an app is not coming from a commercialized template or app generation service.

So, what now?
The deadline for this rule to take effect was initially September 30, 2017. However, Apple extended the deadline to December 24, 2017. This is a very nuanced and evolving situation so I would encourage anyone who already has an agreement with an app company to engage with them regarding their interpretation and how they are handling it. Even if you have already spoken with your app company, you might want to re-engage regarding what might have changed since your first conversation to see what other options exist for distribution such as private distribution versus public distribution. Have a backup plan should they be wrong in their interpretation of the rule.

How we can help…
As a third-party event planning company who specializes in mobile design, we are in a unique position because we work with and have been in conversations with many different app providers. They all believe theirs is the perfect solution. Yet, no two companies have the same interpretation. Ultimately, the goal is to mitigate risk of app rejection by crafting a plan to cover several different scenarios. If you have questions, concerns, comments or just want to know how we believe this rule may affect your event, based on all of the differing philosophies and approaches, contact me directly at tlafleur@meetings-incentives.com.

 

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design

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The Art and Science of Data for Meetings Management

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Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director of Marketing and Strategy

Data is key to a successful meetings management program. But the larger question is how to make sense of the data and gain insights to drive decisions that can positively impact your organization. This is where the art and science aspect comes into play. Data science is about methods, processes, and systems to extract knowledge from data in various forms. More sophisticated analytical skills also require more sophisticated visual presentation skills. It is important to combine elements of design, such as harmony, rhythm, flow, balance, and focus, together in appropriate proportions to convey the messages in interesting and informative ways that grab and keep the attention of your audience.

In practice, the art of data for meetings management is often a team sport. The creative process includes divergent thinking, which involves the generation of multiple answers to a problem; conceptual blending, in which solutions arise from the intersection of different frames of reference; and, honing, in which an acceptable solution emerges from iterating over many successive unacceptable versions of the solution. The art is the ability to bring together individuals with diverse backgrounds, look at things differently, and solve real business challenges.

Then there is this idea of “big data.” But, what exactly is it and how does it relate to meetings management? In 2001, Gartner analyst Doug Laney came up with the famous three V’s of volume, variety and velocity of data that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. In 2011, Gartner expanded this to definition of data management. “Big data” is high-volume, -velocity and -variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.

But it’s not the amount of data that’s most important. It is what organizations do with their data that matters. Business Intelligence (BI) technologies can handle large amounts of structured and sometimes unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities. They also provide a historical, current and predictive view of business operations. Whereas business intelligence comprises the set of strategies, processes, applications and technical architectures used to support the collection, data analysis, presentation and dissemination of business information.

Recently, Lisa Palmeri, Vice President of Global Enterprise Solutions with Meetings & Incentives Worldwide and Linsey Giant, Technical Event Consultant with Anthem, presented on this topic at Cvent Connect 2017. Specifically, they focused on leveraging BI tools with Cvent and shared their knowledge of meeting management applications such as; team management and workload distribution, benchmarking and strategic decision-making. They discussed the business information that can be gained from meeting data and how to apply those insights and make an impact in your organization. They stressed that acting upon the insights is imperative.

So, the question we are often asked by our clients is how to get started, connect data, tell a story and benefit their organization’s meetings management goals. “In response to an ever-increasing need for business insights, BI software has flooded the market. And, with the benefits of BI being numerous and the cost of not having BI growing, it is easy to want to quickly adopt a solution,” said Mona Lebied, Online Marketing with Datapine. But, she also cautions this approach could be disastrous and investing in BI shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Understanding what drives success in your organization is tough stuff, and you should not expect to get it right the first time. It is an iterative process. And, before you get started you need a strategy and roadmap if you are looking to launch and manage your business intelligence. Even the best BI software needs some initial heavy lifting to maximize its potential. It involves stakeholders, sponsors, technology, data cleansing, KPIs, the right tool and/or partner, and a phased approach according to Lebied.

M&IW was on the verge of working with a third party to create a data warehouse. However, what we learned is that the effort is always in construction. ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) is a process in data warehousing responsible for pulling data out of the source systems, normalizing the data, cleaning, applying filters, loading it into the data repository for other reporting applications and then pulling data to run queries,” said Lisa.

Duplicating the data in a DW and transporting data from multiple sources to a centralized repository eats up network bandwidth and time and consumes endless CPU cycles in the transformation process. Whereas, in a BI system, you leave the data in the sources where it exists. BI without a DW is a valid approach for some organizations if you trust the raw data in your systems. You are then essentially creating a virtualized data warehouse environment that allows for continuous data loading for dynamic elements that can render real-time dashboards and scorecards. You are not dealing with huge volumes of data. You are extracting only what you need to answer the business question at hand.

There are a lot of BI technologies in the marketplace and this is not an endorsement of any one tool. We determined DOMO to be the best solution based on our needs and requirements. One of the benefits of using DOMO is early “dirty data” detection. We can apply business rules to a meeting request and see if the results don’t look right at the time of extract. This helps to ensure the data is going in correctly.

Columns and rows are great for storing data, but not for telling stories. Whereas the Domo card builder interprets the data and suggests how to visualize it for maximum impact and clarity. Or, a multitude of other options for charts, cards and more are available essentially making complex data sets consumable and meaningful for answering a specific business question. Dynamic cards allow for instant filtering, date range updates and can be readily shared.

By way of example, let’s say we want to answer what was the average hotel rate for programs held in the United States in 2016? We source thousands of hotels representing hundreds of thousand contracted room nights annually. For this exercise, Domo is connected to three data sources, two through Cvent and one flat file in a financial system. Those three data sources are 579 MBs of flow. And, after the output it represents only 21MBs which is much more manageable.

Because it notifies us of missing data points, null values, or invalid data, nothing falls through the cracks. In our example above, the average negotiated domestic rate was showing as $277. But, a quick look at the data revealed that one rate was not divided by the number of individuals so the real average, once the anomaly was fixed, was $198. That is the beauty of having that level of data transparency. There is lots of information we can glean to make decisions. When we look at cost savings, we save the most on sleeping rooms. However, we can dig deeper to see where are the best opportunities for additional savings for our clients.

Another benefit for us as a third-party is scheduling and assigning workload. We can get a view of our team to see when we have multiple resources out and time constraints to work around. This helps us ensure we are responsive to our clients by assigning an individual that has the bandwidth to fully support the request and meet the deadline. Domo also assists us in continuing to provide world class sourcing services and outperform our competition by using it as a performance monitoring tool in looking at the number of projects per buyer, average hours to contract, cost savings achieved, and more to ensure they are exceeding established goals. “Our clients expect us to be as efficient and productive as possible. And, having a BI strategy and software platform helps us drive results based on facts. It is an iterative process. The more you learn, the more application it has and the more opportunities you have to use it,” said Lisa.

Because of interest we received at Cvent Connect regarding this topic, Lisa presented a follow up webinar in June. It was the first of a two-part series and will be available on demand soon. Or, if you are interested in receiving copy of the presentation or connecting with Lisa, email us at marketing@meetings-incentives.com. The second webinar will take place in September so stay tuned for more information.

 

Posted in: Company News, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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4 Key Trends in Medical Meetings

Medical_Meetings_Cropped_BlogWritten by Naomi Tucker, CMP, HMCC | Senior Strategic Account Manager

Meeting management professionals have a unique role when it comes to the planning and execution of medical meetings. From ensuring the compliance of the healthcare professionals, to reporting and staying on top of trends, there are many complexities. The world of medical meetings can be hard to absorb, especially when the landscape is continually changing. This years’ Pharma Forum brought forth many differing perspectives and highlighted the trends that are occurring within the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry. Below are a few that I see as particularly important in the world of medical meetings.

Content is King

Yes, content is still king. However, we learned content can get complacent. That is why many pharmaceutical companies have a renewed focus on delivering the right content in the right manner to healthcare professionals. It is also important to note that the way content is being received is changing. Healthcare meetings are now becoming more engaging, encouraging the attendees to be more than spectators at their events. This can be achieved with specific meeting technology that is focused on enhancing attendee participation. For example, Educational Measures and MeetingPlay are both applications that can be used to increase engagement at meetings and make them more lively, inspiring, and interactive. This trend is making the consumption of content more desirable by the attendees through interaction and delivering more value to the organizations.

Is there an App for That?

There is an increase in the usage of mobile applications in medical meetings. No longer are attendees subject to waiting until the day of their event to interact with others attending the meeting. Attendees can have increased interaction with their peers and industry colleagues through mobile applications, and usage is on the rise. Mobile platforms such as Attendify and Crowdcompass help elevate the experience of events. Customized agendas, person-to-person chat forums, speaker bios, and activity pages are all common elements of these apps that are a value add for any medical meeting. If you are a meeting professional that hasn’t used a mobile app, be prepared for this trend coming to your medical meeting soon.

The Expanding World of China

Working on medical meetings in China, in the past, have been few and far between. However, now many pharmaceutical and life sciences companies are expanding within the country of China. This new landscape is creating more opportunities for face-to-face interactions, and in turn, more medical meetings. Not only will the meeting professional have to be well-versed in the compliance restrictions and regulations, they will also have to ensure they are up-to-speed on the cultural phenomena of planning medical meetings in that area of the world, as well.

Mergers and Acquisitions

We are seeing an increase of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) for companies within the life sciences and pharmaceutical industry. At times, these changes within the structure of organizations can create a gap in which third-party meeting planning agencies can help fill. There are also complexities in how medical meetings come together within the new organization. It is helpful to know about the intended change whether it be a merger or acquisition to ensure the meeting you are planning is taking in to account all types of attendees and collecting the compliance-related information needed for the event or conference to be successful.

Looking Forward

It is important to have a constant flow of knowledge, education and peer support to help balance unprecedented changes, tackle tough regulations, and stay on top of trends. With the changing landscape in this highly-related niche industry, working with professionals who specialize in the nuances of medical meetings can greatly alleviate challenges in the long run and create successful, engaging and effective outcomes.

Posted in: Company News, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Pharmaceutical, Medical and HCP Compliance, Program Management & Event Design

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Connecting a Virtual Workforce with Cyber Learning

 

 

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Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director, Marketing & Strategy

We believe live meetings and events transform organizations. We know what happens when companies transform, when they look beyond what they already know. Our purpose is reinforced through our three “C’s” – Customer Obsession, Collaboration and Culture. We also believe our employees should experience a positive personal transformation during their career.

“Based on the growth of M&IW in the past five years, we recognized a need to provide broad based learning on a multitude of topics to increase employee satisfaction and ensure retention. So, we added a fourth core driver – Cross-Platform Cyber Learning. This means challenging and connecting our global virtual workforce to learn and develop through the benefits of consistent educational content and delivery to ensure engagement, career growth, retention and to reward achievements,” said Jean Johnson, CMP, Co-CEO and Chief People Officer.

“What exactly is cyber learning?”

It’s a good question with a broad answer. Cyber learning draws on a wide array of technologies, applications, and learning theories to create experiences that improve, foster, and assess learning. To support our new initiative, we have implemented a learning management system – microlearning.

“How is microlearning different than cyber learning?”

Microlearning is a technique of delivering learning content in short, bite-sized bursts (from three to five minutes), several times per week, or even daily. Neuroscientists have determined that we can only absorb four to five pieces of information into short-term memory at any given time, so by breaking it into short chunks, it’s easier to understand and assimilate.

“Why is it beneficial to organizations?”

After an extensive vetting and selection process, we determined Grovo was the best solution for M&IW. The Grovo platform was launched on February 6 and since then our employees have viewed more than 3,000 microlearning videos! “We are already getting a great return on our investment and could not be more excited with the knowledge and consistency in learning it has provided,” said Connie Nau, CMP, CRP, Sr. Director of Talent Engagement.

You might be asking, if M&IW is in the business of live meetings and events, why cross-platform cyber learning? It is a tool as virtual and flexible as we are, it can enhance our new hire on boarding process, provide ongoing “upskill” opportunities, leadership training, career development and personal growth. Our team members don’t work a traditional 9 to 5 weekday schedule and they travel across the globe with our client programs. Grovo is self-paced, on-demand, and ensures compliance. It is not a replacement for face-to-face meetings nor does it diminish the power of human connections. In fact, it makes those interactions and live experiences that much more meaningful.

“When does personal transformation happen?”

Personal transformation is an ongoing process. It requires a systematic approach. A caterpillar does not become a butterfly by accident. Such a major transformation happens over time and involves a series of essential steps. Regardless of what we want to change, a true personal transformation always begins on the inside.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions

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Beyond Features: A More Comprehensive Look at Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps Events

Written by Tim LaFleur, CMP | Director, Mobile Solutions & Strategy

At M&IW, we are extremely proud of the fact that we have consistently been a top consultant provider when it comes to making the most out of your meeting and event application. When I took on the role of Director of Mobile Solutions & Strategy to lead M&IW’s initiative, I knew we would need to go beyond the basic app features, utilize our comprehensive understanding of event operations, and dive deep into clients specific needs to create a service that has since become best practice in the industry.

Our process is to look beyond the feature and to not take it at face value. We evaluate the various app sections as buckets of functionality independent from their face value functionality (i.e. speakers, schedule, sponsors, etc.). Thinking about a section in terms of the functions that a module holds, opens a world of possibilities to create something special for the client.

The best app consultancy services think in terms of a three-pronged stool and if one of the legs falls short, the stool is bound to be off balance and fall apart. Each leg is represented by an area of competency including utilizing a superior app technology platform where the functionality contained within each module is dynamic; the understanding of events and how various event aspects may depend or seamlessly flow into one another; and a keen awareness of our client’s specific needs and overall event objectives. Being uniquely positioned to understand all three components of the three-pronged stool, allows the users to take full advantage of the application’s platform and intended purpose. Taking time to vet and ask many questions about the platforms will allow for a level understanding similar to that of the technology provider themselves. Combined with a unique perspective on apps and knowledge of how the meetings and events flow, allows for a unique vantage point to craft the apps for a client. In the end, we have not simply filled in the individual features, but a technology solution that solves the mobile needs of a conference has been developed.

To illustrate a best-practice approach consider the following:

Social Features and Social Walls. Consider this feature question, “Does the attendee’s post go to social media with a specific hashtag and then pulled back down by the social wall to display on a screen or does the social wall bring attendees posts over without having to go out into social media?” The first scenario may pose confidentiality and security concerns. Additionally, does the social wall display pictures and text together as it was submitted on the feed or does it separate out various post elements. Based on how these questions are answered determines how the specific feature can be utilized and if the technology is a fit for the specific event.

If we simply check the box stating the app supports social wall and do not ask how, we are short-changing the potential use or functionality. Perhaps an event organizer wanted a social wall, but there were privacy concerns and it was assumed that the posts flowed through social media without understanding the functionality of the feature and because of that basic assumption the feature was not utilized. Where in reality the feature could have been utilized while maintaining privacy if the execution of feature was discovered and right platform selected.

Interactive Floor Plan. If the floor plan features utilize heat mapping or pin dropping to outline the location of a room this leads to other questions that affect the attendee experience with this feature. For example, will heat mapping adequately map a room that is not a standard square or rectangle? If there is a ballroom that is used in the morning for general session, but then breakouts later in the day, how does the heat mapped area handle that layering or is there the need to create multiple maps to illustrate?

When considering a pin system think about the following. An attendee is looking at the maps, can they tell which pin is which and distinguish between ones that are clustered together? This is similar to the pin drop conundrum in a geolocation map section as well as a floor plan section. Does the technology provider have the ability to filter out by type, view in list or search by a particular name? The answers to all the questions, regardless of if it is macro or micro function to the app, affect the way it operates, the attendee experience and the way that we consult with our clients. In short, there is no question too trivial since the answer can have a profound effect on event design and the attendee experience. Knowing the right questions to ask is developed over time and with experience.

Next time you are tasked with implementing a mobile app for your program, consider the following:

  • Does the app provider I am partnering with provide dynamic feature functionality and what elements flow together and interact?
  • Does this technology solve the three main “must haves” identified in this article that drive our event design and attendee experience?
  • Do I feel comfortable with the app, because if not, chances are my attendees won’t either?
  • Do I understand and are we utilizing the features to their full functionality to address our event technology needs or are we simply taking the features at face value?

These four simple questions will open a world of opportunities for better communication efficiency, a more engaged audience, and greater return on your next program.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design

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Cvent and Lanyon Announce Merger – Are You Ready?

Award, Cvent, Technology, Meetings

Written by Dan Tarpey, HMCC | Vice President, Sales and Marketing

Last week was momentous for Cvent, Inc. and Lanyon Solutions, Inc., two industry leading cloud-based enterprise event management technology solutions, as they announced the completion of their merger. While the companies have met an important milestone in legally and financially merging under Vista Equity Partners, the work of combining their business operations and respective products appears to be just beginning. The announcement cited Cvent’s founder and CEO Reggie Aggarwal has been named the CEO of the new combined company that will operate under the Cvent brand.

“As an early adopter and long-time Cvent customer, we are optimistic the resulting Cvent will continue to be an innovator of cutting-edge event management technology solutions that propel our industry forward,” said Tina Madden, CFO and Partner of Meetings & Incentives Worldwide. M&IW has supported our clients with expertise in both Cvent and Lanyon platforms throughout the entire event lifecycle. We are proud to be two-time winners of the Cvent Planner Awards for Savvy Sourcing and Power of the Platform as well as a 2016 finalist. Additionally, we have employees that are Cvent Certified that will leverage their knowledge to take advantage of new functionality and enhancements.

Over the past two decades, Lanyon and Cvent have delivered some of the most innovative and successful technology solutions including event management, strategic meetings management, sourcing solutions, room block management, and mobile and onsite solutions. Combined, the companies have more than 800 technology professionals and 700 customer-facing support staff. “Our employees have been the DNA of our success and we’re excited to add the talent, experience, and the products of the Lanyon team,” said Reggie Aggarwal. As the undisputed market leader with approximately 28,000 customers in 100 countries, the new Cvent will continue to drive technology innovation while providing customers with world-class levels of support for all Cvent and Lanyon solutions.

At the same time, we also recognize that this news may be met with initial apprehension or uncertainty about the impacts of the merger on your business, whether you are a Cvent or Lanyon customer. At our annual M&IW Client Summit in September, Lisa Palmeri, Vice President of Global Enterprise Solutions, announced our plan to offer more comprehensive Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) and Cvent Technology consulting services beginning the first quarter of 2017. The current offering is being expanded with additional resources and expertise to provide a wide array of support. If you are considering a new Cvent implementation, a transition from Lanyon or another product to Cvent, or you want to optimize your use of meeting management technology solutions, sign up to receive a complimentary one-hour SMMart Action project assessment.

“M&IW is committed to embracing the latest industry technology solutions and remaining at the forefront of thought leadership in this exciting area of our business. As we learn more about the details of the Cvent/Lanyon merger, we will share our observations and perspectives with you,” said Lisa Palmeri.

Posted in: Company News, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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Practice Gratitude at Your Live Events

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Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications & Creative Services

“Thanksgiving seems like a holiday that is as American as apple pie, or pumpkin pie for that matter. However, there are variants of this day all around the world. Their meanings, dates and customs may have different nuances, but they all revolve around the concept of gratitude,” said Kristy Puchko in her article How Seven Other Nations Celebrate Thanksgiving.

Although most of the U.S. population celebrates an official day of gratitude called Thanksgiving– Native Americans have always had a deep tradition of routinely giving thanks. For those that practice gratitude on a consistent basis, you experience the positive energy it brings into your daily routine. And, if you take it one step further by practicing gratitude with the masses, it can truly be life-changing.

At M&IW, our purpose is to transform organizations through live meetings and events. We believe seamless and engaging experiences capitalize on the need for human connections. We also believe that the energy that is generated when people come together is when the magic happens.

Now, what if we were to take the collective human energy in a live event scenario and turn it into gratitude? Can you imagine the impact it might have at your conference or national sales meeting? As professional event planners, we are well-aware that what keeps individuals coming back to live meetings and events is the experience. And, the experience is more often how the participant feels versus what they think about the event.

CSR programs have done wonders for the experience at events. So, why don’t we bring the concept of practicing gratitude together into an event setting more often? Why not create environments, activities and space for attendees to practice gratitude and make the experience truly unforgettable?

Here are five tips for practicing gratitude at your next event:

1. Gratitude Event Hashtag – Consider a special hashtag that gives participants an avenue to say what they are thankful for during your event and then display the social stream at monitors around the conference. The hashtag can be as simple as the meeting name with “Thankful For” or “Moments of Gratitude” at the end of it. For instance, #Meeting2017ThankfulFor or #Meeting2017MomentsofGratitude.

2. Gratitude Wall – Construct a portable wall in a common space or designate a gratitude wall where attendees are free to write moments of gratitude. Simply title the wall, “Today, I am thankful for…” and watch the wall fill up with moments that will make you laugh, moments that may bring a tear and moments that leaving you feeling full of gratitude.

3. Keynote Speaker on Practicing Gratitude –Hire a speaker that has a story of gratitude and shares strategies to incorporate practicing gratitude into one’s daily habits. These stories are inspirational, motivational and participants use tips to bring these habits into their daily routine.

4. Be Still Space – Consider creating a space where attendees can practice stillness on demand. A quiet area with soft seating. Hang inspirational sayings and thoughts of appreciation to inspire thoughts of gratitude during stillness.

5. Gratitude Signs – Create signage that has moments of gratitude written on them and spread them through the event space. As attendees walk from session to session, they will catch moments to be thankful for which may inspire those same thoughts among the participants.

When the purpose of these environments and activities are promoted appropriately to the participants, the impact on how participants feel about a conference, meeting or event can be enormous. Attendees may not even be able to express the experience in words, but the feeling that they get may be enough to make for an amazing experience. What’s more, it is a well-known fact, when people practice gratitude they are more open to new information and able to retain new concepts easier because their mind and hearts are open.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design

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M&IW Campus Week Brings Industry Leading Content

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Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

During the M&IW Client Summit on Thursday, September 8, our resident subject matter experts will be leading engaging roundtable discussions designed to Go the Distance for today’s travel and event professional. We had the opportunity to catch a sneak peek of the topics and presenters. Here is a highlight of what they told us in our one-on-one interviews:

Tech Talk
Hosted by Tim LaFleur, CMP, Director, Mobile Strategy and Global Procurement – Suppliers & Chip Begley, Manager, Program Website & Mobile App Services, IT & Web Design

Our techies plan to cover two extremely hot topics that still cause a bit of confusion and mystery for most planners – Mobile Apps and WiFi/Internet.  Many planners want to know the variety of features and how various solution providers manages those features. When it comes to App solutions the devil is in the details and the details can make or break an effective meeting app. Similarly, there is so much still to learn about WiFi. Our tech experts will demystify the often confusing and misunderstood topic to allow planners to better manage internet needs for their meetings and events.

Participants will take away some basic next level thinking and be able to answer, “What does this all mean for me the planner?” This discussion will dive deep into the practicality of the topic by covering all the considerations that go along with it that can affect your work, the app and the attendee experience.

Talk Tech goes the distance by going further and digging deeper into a commonly discussed topic and challenge for today’s planners.  Much of the discussion that people are having regarding these topics only go about halfway leaving all sides without the proper understanding about what the other is saying.  This engaging roundtable discussion will aim to “Go the Distance” to create good, enriching and intelligent conversations about these topics where there hasn’t necessarily been in the past.

Event Planning Trends and Best Practices
Hosted by Christine Matias, MA, Director, Global Program Management Services, Steve Lorenz, CMP, HMCC, Senior Program Manager, Global Meeting Services & Ella Darby, Program Manager, Global Program Management Services

Our Event Planning Specialists will cover a plethora of topics during their engaging roundtable discussion from paperless meetings to shorter lead times and from the latest F&B trends to virtual meetings. Participants will leave with a great overview of the current trends affecting the industry and a better understanding of how we can all collaborate together to keep up with and change alongside them.

Event Planning Trends and Best Practices goes the distance by bringing to light current trends and trends on the horizon. Planners need to know where these trends are headed to know which road will help them “Go the Distance.”

Small Meeting Hotel Contracting
Hosted by Vicki Schmitz, VICKI SCHMITZ, HMCC, Manager, Global Procurement – Hotels

Small Meeting Hotel Contracting will reveal best practices in contracting specifically for small meetings. A high percentage of our client’s meetings are 75 guest rooms on peak or less and in most cases, these meetings have less than three months of lead time. During this engaging discussion, we will offer best practices that have helped today’s small meeting planner streamline the contracting process in order to expedite the final contract and give our clients the tools and resources to effectively prepare and plan for a successful meeting. Our featured hotel partners will disclose how they manage their small meeting contracts so participants will get an inside look from the hotelier viewpoint leading to a real discussion on ways to collaborate together to achieve success on both sides.

The audience will learn ways their industry partners are handling short term meetings and be able to take some of these ideas back to their own team to implement. In most cases, we all face the same challenges – especially in a seller’s market.   From a sourcing perspective, we all run into similar obstacles… limited availability, competitive rates and less flexibility.

Go the Distance is a constant theme for Sourcing. Buyers continue to strive to find clients the best possible options for their meetings to assist in achieving their meeting goals. We continuously work with our hotel partners to find the best possible fit and pricing. Understanding the dynamics from all angles and how to best collaborate together is where we all can “Go the Distance.”

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Incentive Travel Programs, Pharmaceutical, Medical and HCP Compliance, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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7 Questions to Ask Before Implementing Cvent

Cvent Award 2016 Finalist

Posted by Dan Tarpey | Sr. Director, Strategic Solutions

Imagine this… You have finally made the decision to invest in a sophisticated meeting management technology, you have gone through training and implementation and you Freeze! Now what? How do you maximize the investment in this dynamic solution and make it relevant to your business and workflows?

From mapping the SMM process and creating the meeting request forms to reporting and consolidation of spend; to the tactical operations of website builds, attendee management, surveys and On Arrival, there are dozens of items your team will need to tackle and even more lurking around every corner.

Here are just a few things to think about after implementation and training:

  1. How to prioritize tasks for sourcing, registration, meeting management and spend tracking?
  2. Who is part of the ongoing Cvent Admin Team to manage updates and workflow improvements?
  3. Why logic should be implemented within the tool to create the appropriate workflows?
  4. How will process forms be used to help with your workflow and assignments?
  5. What metrics and data points will be needed to track ROI on the solution?
  6. Who will manage and document workflow and process improvements internally?
  7. What is the best way to customize templates for RFPs, registration sites, budgets and reports?

A bit overwhelmed after reading these initial items to consider?

Don’t fret! M&IW knows what it takes for an organization to perform at its best and Go the Distance! M&IW was awarded Cvent Plannie Awards for Savvy Sourcing and Power of the Platform. Our certified associates have in-depth knowledge of Cvent’s capabilities and what you need to know to get the most of out of your investment.

We are offering a no-cost, no obligation consultation to address your most pressing Cvent questions. After this conversation, we guarantee you will walk away with answers and new insights; what you need to know before you implement, the best way to get started, and why it is important to demonstrate the value of Cvent to your C-suite? If this sounds of interest, simply CLICK HERE to sign up.

Posted in: Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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WiFi 101: Have Enough Bandwidth for your Event?

Technology WiFi Bandwidth

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

Next week, our very own Tim LaFleur, is presenting at MPI-WEC on the very engaging topic of WiFi and what planners need to know to really understand it and tips on how to negotiate it with venues, hotel partners, and suppliers. Speaking with Tim about WiFi is seriously as exciting as it would be to talk to Steve Jobs about the iPhone. As Director of Mobile Strategy, Tim lives, breathes, eats and sleeps technology, and lucky for us, he is always willing to share his vast knowledge on the topic with our audience. Here are a few things Tim and I discussed.

Some of the key points he made are…

Personal experience with WiFi doesn’t always translate into WiFi experience at events.

WiFi is all around us in our daily lives. The majority of us have personal networks at home and are very used to going into the nearest coffee shop, restaurant and sometimes even outdoor park to pick up a free and reliable WiFi network. Mobility has blurred the line between personal and professional environments, so it is easy to understand why it is a common misconception that the WiFi at a meeting or event is easily accessible, ready-to-use, fast, and even free.

What used to ruin a meeting quicker than anything else is bad food. Now it is bad food and bad WiFi.

Free isn’t always free.

If the WiFi doesn’t provide enough bandwidth, network strength or throughput to support the participants, the meeting or event experience is in serious jeopardy. The cost of free WiFi can be an expensive opportunity cost.

But we have enough bandwidth, right?

Bandwidth is such a commonly used termed, even to typically describe one’s ability to complete their workload, that the question begs to be asked, ‘do we really understand what bandwidth is?’ Upload speeds, download speeds; sure we get the basic concept. A planner doesn’t need to know everything about how a network works. However, they do need to understand enough of the terms and technology to have an intelligent conversation to know what they are getting. A good WiFi experience isn’t simply about bandwidth. It is also about network strength, throughput, latency, bandwidth and how it is partitioned. All too often, a planner who is speaking with a venue technician doesn’t have a full understanding of what they are receiving and the venue technician doesn’t necessarily understand the dynamics of the meeting needs. It is critical for the success of the event that we continue to close this gap or our programs may suffer as a result from slowed networks and a lack of connectivity.

Bandwidth, throughput, partitioning – please explain.

The simplest way to explain bandwidth is to relate it to the size of a water hose. There is only so much water that can fit through the limited size of the hose. When the water that comes through the hose is sectioned off and allocated toward people that is the same thing as using some of the bandwidth of the network.

Throughput, on the other hand, is how much data can actually transmit through an access point or the hardware that transmits the internet signal.Throughput is limited by how many people can connect to a certain access point.Typically, each access point allows for 75-100 connections at a time. If too many devices are trying to connect to the same access point, users can experience a DOS (denial of service) and not be allowed into the network.

We have all experienced a slow network or the inability to access the WiFi when the person sitting next to us is not experiencing any issues.This is a result of a common occurrence when the network hasn’t been designed properly to allow for enough bandwidth or throughput or is just experiencing a high volume of traffic or is noisy due to old or outdated hardware.

It is also important to note that mobile devices don’t ever really go idle when WiFi is enabled. There are always apps running in the background that are utilizing the bandwidth and connecting to an access point.So if you have a room of 1000 people connected to a couple access points and transmitting a little bit of data, it can take up significant bandwidth and throughput.

Finally, partitioning is also a key term and idea to understand. A facility may give you an overall figure for the total bandwidth. However, asking how the bandwidth is partitioned between meeting space, hotel staff and guest rooms, for instance, is extremely important to understand to be able to design a network to support the event needs. Additionally, it is important to recognize if the partition is flexible and if it can be changed to be able to allocate additional bandwidth to specific areas.

Plan and design your event network just as you would design your food & beverage needs.

The biggest mistake planners make is to simply base the needs of the network off the number of attendees.In-depth conversations regarding the program needs are imperative to the success of the network. Are we talking about basic internet surfing, downloading, polling, and/or streaming? What types of apps will be used? Where will users be located (all in one room in separate spaces)? These are all key questions to consider and to discuss with the facility or supplier partner to ensure the network is designed to meet the event’s needs. Just as a planner wouldn’t simply tell the CSM that they need food for 500 people without explaining how many at each meal function and any special food sensitivities nor should a planner skip over such important details of the WiFi needs.

Breaking down the cost of WiFi

The conversation regarding the cost and WiFi services provided needs to begin during the RFP, sourcing, and contracting process.There are two basic methods for the pricing of WiFi. It is typically either the total amount of bandwidth allocated across unlimited users or based on the total number of concurrent connections.There are pros and cons to each method, however the number of connections tends to be easier to plan around. Having these conversations up-front will go a long way to keeping costs under control while providing planners with the appropriate network needs.

People tend to look at internet and events in two ways, either a cost of doing business or a profit center. Planners tend to think that it should be a cost of doing business and properties tend to think it should be a profit center and this is where negotiating becomes important. All conversations around the network should be addressed at the time of contract signing.

A final note

WiFi is now the fourth utility. There is power, water, heat/AC and now you have WiFi. Planners wouldn’t put on an event without the other three critical utilities so don’t skip out on the fourth one.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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